Nuclear energy looks set to dominate gubernatorial elections outside Tokyo as local government consent is key to bringing nuclear plants back online or building new ones.
The issue has already been raised by candidates in the Feb. 9 race for a new governor of Tokyo.
In Yamaguchi Prefecture, which Prime Minister Shinzo Abe represents in the Diet, there is controversy over a proposal to construct a new nuclear plant in Kaminoseki.
The official campaign for the Yamaguchi gubernatorial race began Feb. 6, with voting scheduled for Feb. 23.
“While attention was focused on the Tokyo gubernatorial election because two former prime ministers have campaigned together, interest will also focus on the Yamaguchi gubernatorial election since it is Abe’s home prefecture,” said Kawamura, who also represents a district in the prefecture. “We must produce a suitable result.”
He touched upon the fact that Morihiro Hosokawa, a former prime minister, is running in the Tokyo election while calling for an immediate end to nuclear power generation. Hosokawa is backed by Junichiro Koizumi, who was prime minister from 2001 to 2006 and remains hugely popular.
Muraoka, seeking to avoid having the nuclear issue come down to the local level, said, “The central government should think about energy policy because it involves the entire nation.”
The Abe administration is moving to gain approval to resume operations at nuclear plants before summer when electricity demand peaks.
Later this year, gubernatorial elections will be held in Ishikawa and Ehime prefectures, which both host nuclear power plants.
Campaigning for the Ishikawa election will officially begin Feb. 27. The incumbent, Masanori Tanimoto, will be seeking a record-tying sixth term. The prefectural chapters of the LDP, New Komeito and the DPJ have all pledged support for Tanimoto. Even the prefectural chapter of the Social Democratic Party, which has voiced its opposition to nuclear energy in Ishikawa, has come out in support of Tanimoto.
A decision on resuming operations at the prefecture’s Shika plant, operated by Hokuriku Electric Power Co., is awaiting the results of a study about whether a fault lies directly under a nuclear reactor.
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